Constellation design using Flower Constellations
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This paper introduces guidelines which can be used to design constellations of satellites using Flower Constellations. Flower Constellations (FCs) are characterized by an axis of symmetry that can be arbitrarily oriented. When the FC axis of symmetry is aligned with the Earth spin axis, then the satellites will have identical repeat ground tracks. Flower Constellations are identified by eight parameters. Five are integer parameters: the number of petals (N p), the number of sidereal days to repeat the ground track (N d), the number of satellites (N s), two integers to rule the phasing (F n and F d), and three orbit parameters that equal for all satellites: the argument of perigee (w), the orbit inclination (i), and the perigee altitude (h p). Each of these parameters have a unique effect on the overall design of a Flower Constellation. This paper discusses how specific choices of these parameters will produce certain effects. Additionally, some broad categories of constellation types will be presented along with some unique cases. Often, a large number of satellites is used to completely visualize these constellations. Thus, Flower Constellations lend themselves to micro- and nano-satellite constellations very easily. However, Flower Constellations are readily scalable to any mission requirement.
author list (cited authors)
Wilkins, M. P., Mortari, D., & Bruccoleri, C.